Photos by Damien Crocker (to come)
Everything was wonderful at Freo.Social last night as Everclear swept into town for the first of the WA dates on their current Australian tour. A packed Freo.Social greeted Art Alexakis and his band like the conquering punk rock heroes that they are and went home almost sated after a 90-minute tour-de-force that showed this band is far more than just that one song.
There are a lot of pretenders, a few contenders, but only Art Alexakis has that voice.
Speaking of that song, just over half way through their set, when a few punters started calling for it, Alexakis responded with just about the best riposte you’re ever going to hear from a stage: “You don’t start sex by coming, you’ve got to work up to it.” Then, with a wry smile, got back down to business.
Opening with the title track from So Much For The Afterglow, Alexakis and his cohorts —Dave French on guitar, Freddy Herrera on bass and Brian Nolan on drums — ripped through a sparkling set that was a masterclass in 90s punk music.
Many years down the track, the songs still have life, and playing them from the vantage of age and experience meant that Evecrclear could acknowledge some of the influences that they probably would have vehemently denied back in the day.
Deep into the set, when we’re getting Alexakis playing ‘Strawberry’ solo acoustic after daring the crowd to request a cover, an opportunity they refused noisily, we also have French ripping through accents of Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ and the riff from Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ before the band segued into ‘Song From An American Movie.’
And, while we’re on influences, Nolan sat behind his kit wearing a RUSH t-shirt, a nice nod to the recent passing of Neil Peart.
What we learned tonight is that, years after they were ubiquitous and that song took over airwaves all over the world, Everclear remain just as vital as they ever were. Part of that vitality rests on Alexakis’s voice. His delivery is so distinctive and so widely emulated. There are a lot of pretenders, a few contenders, but only Art Alexakis has that voice.
For a time, Everclear stood alone at the pinnacle of 90s punk, no other band measured up, and tonight’s performance reminded us why. The crowd sang along to almost every word of every song and, as the night continued, people knew that what we were experiencing was one of those gigs that will live on in our collective memories. We’ll still be talking about this one twenty years down the track.
Who knows if Everclear will ever come back this way. Hopefully they will, but if they don’t they leave us at the top of their game.
By the time they finally got to ‘Santa Monica’, via a cover of The Vaselines’ ‘Molly’s Lips’, the punters were happy, but they still wanted more. A bit like sex, I guess, when it’s this good, you always want more.
Speaking of wanting more, proceedings were opened tonight by Freo locals, Axe Girl, fronted by newly minted Australian citizen, Addison Axe.
For those in the know, Axe Girl play a fierce brand of 21st Century pop punk that hits hard when played live. Axe Girl’s set tonight delighted their current fans and won them a whole bunch of new ones, as every song they played drew the steadily growing crowd ever closer to the stage.
Based on their songs, stagecraft and the enormous response last night from another band’s audience, 2020 is going to be Axe Girl’s breakout year. They’re supporting Everclear again tonight at The Carine, are on the bill for Hotter Than Hell in Dunsborough on Saturday and supporting Frenzal Rhomb at The Newport on Sunday (23 February). Make sure you get to the venue early enough to see them, you will not be disappointed.
Everclear play The Carine tonight (21 February) and headline the Hotter Than Hell Tour at Dunsborough Tavern on Saturday 22 February.
So Much For The Afterglow
Everything to Everyone
Song From An American Movie, Pt 1
I Will Buy You A New Life
Molly’s Lips (The Vaselines cover)